Lessons in collaboration from commercial competitors

Fairmont Monte Carlo, Monaco

What drives 23 leading international companies in the same industry sector to come together on a voluntary basis for the greater good? Asks Stephen Farrant, Director of International Tourism Partnership at IBLF

Earlier this week, the International Tourism Partnership and the World Travel and Tourism Council announced the ‘Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative 1.0‘ (HCMI). Essentially a voluntary code that has been co-created with the industry for the corporate marketplace, this introduces a practical approach to calculating and communicating the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in a consistent and transparent way.

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative working group was formed in early 2011 to devise a unified methodology based on available data, and to address inconsistencies in hotel companies’ approaches. The methodology, informed by the GHG Protocol Standards, was first developed in 2011 and has since been tested in hotels of different style and size in different geographical locations, and refined through a stakeholder engagement process, with input from consultants KPMG. It has also been reviewed by the World Resources Institute.

Why should anyone outside of the hotel sector be interested in this?

There are three significant aspects to this work.

Firstly, it is a unique form of collaboration among fierce industry competitors. That 23 competitor companies have achieved this degree of consensus on an issue as significant (both from a societal and, increasingly in the future, a commercial perspective) as carbon measurement is in itself worthy of note. Commercial competitors can indeed become effective collaborators on sustainability.

Secondly, it shows an industry sector (one that has often been criticised for its limited ability to speak and act in a unified manner) moving ahead of regulation. Free market economies tend to work best when the private sector is sufficiently forward-thinking and cognisant of its wider responsibilities to self-regulate in an efficient manner, rather than trying to avoid the inevitable and waiting for the heavy hand of policy-makers.

Thirdly, through this initiative the hotel sector is anticipating an emerging customer trend, namely a growing demand for clear and consistent information on environmental impact to support purchasing decisions. Harnessing market forces and customer demand to the goal of delivering continual improvements in the footprint of the products and services we all need and consume probably offers us the best hope of making progress on the fraught global challenges of environmental constraint.

HCMI 1.0 clearly demonstrates how effective collaboration among commercial competitors can provide solutions which benefit customers, individual companies, the wider industry and society as a whole.

Where else could this sort of practical collaboration help to deliver a more sustainable world?

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